Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can achieve excellence”

With the Australian Ballet performing at qualia this past weekend I had the chance to speak with a large number of guests. Nearly every guest I spoke to had a comment to make about qualia’s recent Conde Nast win. Many guests were aware we had scored a perfect 100/100. The question was asked … well what now, how do you top that.

I had these questions in my mind as I sat watching the Australian Ballet’s’ pas de diex in paradise’ performances. To me this was perfection – two highly trained dancers, perhaps at the pinnacle of their careers, moving in perfect unison with the sun setting majestically across a darkening horizon of islands behind them. It was an amazing combination of the perfection of the human form matched to the beauty of nature. It brought tears to my eyes.

But did everyone see it the same way. What perfection is for me may not be perfection for someone else. And the same applies to our own work. But does that mean we should put our goals aside?

By striving for perfection we are driven to examine tasks, to improve what we did yesterday, we are driven to do our very best. If on the way we reach a world class level of excellence can we be asked for anything more?

Listening to the ballet principals speak, they revealed that of the thousands of performances they had given, there were maybe one or two where they felt they had got in the zone and delivered a perfect performance, true to the music, the artistry and the choreographers vision.

The dancers spend 8 hours a day, week after week, preparing for a season of 2 or 3 hour performances. At qualia we spend 24 hours of every day giving our ‘performance’ to 120 guests, 7 days each week.

Can we really provide a 100/100 perfect experience to each of them?

But if we stop striving for perfection we might as well stop striving for anything. Perfection is an ideal, a goal that motivates us to do our very best in every situation, striving for perfection guides us to follow those corporate and personal standards that push us forward.

Every day I know we all see things that are not perfect, things where we know we can do things better, faster, more effectively, with more style, with a better profit margin. I hope we have not reached perfection because what do I do tomorrow?

I have just finished reading the amazing story of the ill fated flight QF32 by Richard de Crespigny. After safely landing the terminally damaged plane, without any loss of life or even one injury, Captain de Crespigny was still wondering how he could have handled the situation better.
Was his landing perfection? I’m sure all the passengers thought so, yet here is this remarkable hero, who achieved such an amazing feat, analyzing again and again what he could have changed to achieve perfection.

I come back to where we started…maybe we can’t achieve perfection, but if we stop striving for that ideal what else do we have to aim for?

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